How To Manage The Unexpected Resignation Of A Key Employee? | Aparna Sharma | Consulting Editor | The People Management
A tight job market presents many opportunities for job seekers who want to make a change, but movement in the job market means that employers can lose an employee with little notice as job seekers jump on other opportunities. Especially in small companies, this can create stress on daily activities and production.
But the loss of a crucial employee doesn’t have to mean doom and gloom for your company if the leadership takes thoughtful and timely action.
Here are some strategies for leaders to use when they are surprised by a resignation.
1. Monitor your reaction. As the leader, your team will be watching your response to a resignation. If you take it in stride, your team will follow your lead. Be sure to convey a message of stability and opportunity for the company. While you don’t want to undermine the departing team member’s value, it’s OK to remind everyone else that no one is irreplaceable. Let your team know that you will be putting a transition plan in place quickly.
2. Set the terms of the departure. Some circumstances warrant that an employee leaves immediately. If your employee has accepted a job with a competitor or if you want to protect proprietary information, you may want the departing employee to leave that day. If that is not the case, and if you and your employee have had a good relationship, you have an opportunity to orchestrate the departure. You can work with your departing employee to wrap up projects and time the exit so that no person or project is left hanging.
3. Control the message. While your departing employee already may have shared the news with a few close confidantes, make it clear that all further internal communication about the departure will be handled by you or the appropriate representative. He or she may choose to ignore this request, but assuming no one wants to burn a bridge and that the employee trusts you to be fair in your messaging, it’s likely he or she will comply with your request.
4. Take time to regroup. Often, an unexpected departure presents an opportunity to restructure a team, elevate another employee or reassign duties to suit changing needs or growing capabilities. It can also give you a good reason to start a conversation with remaining team members to assess team morale overall and find out if there are underlying issues that you need to tackle. Don’t waste an opportunity to revisit your office culture, team structure, individual strengths and division of labor.
5. Keep the big picture in mind and play the long game. While a surprise resignation may feel personal, try to stay pragmatic. Relationships and former colleagues have a way of resurfacing in the future — most people know of someone who has hired a former boss or colleague — so it’s best to preserve the relationship for everyone’s benefit. Wish your departing employee well and be sincere.
It’s never easy to be blindsided by a surprise resignation, but by responding thoughtfully, thinking strategically and remaining positive, you can use the departure as an opportunity rather than a setback for your company.